Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ava at one year and three months (15 months)

I'm reverting to using years and months for Ava's age now that she's over a year old because I remember being pregnant and thinking the whole countdown by weeks thing and count up in months was confusing and a crock, because no one besides expectant parents or OBGYNs count anything else like that. Clerks aren't in the checkout line harassing babyfaced consumers with, "I'm sorry, you don't look 1,092 weeks old. I'll need to see some ID for this beer purchase."

With a year and three months under her belt, she's walking, dancing, and fake reading every book she gets her hands on. She still mainly says dada, mama, doze (for nose) and uh-uh for no. As in, "Want more of this food?" "Uh-uh."

You know that saying about seeing the world through fresh eyes when you have a child? SO not true. If you really saw the world as a child sees it, you'd be freaked out by vacuums and blow dryers and see no problem eating both food and non-food items off the floor.
It's more accurate that when you have a child, you have a tiny reminder every day to really see the simple pleasures and beauty in the world that you usually overlook because you're too busy going places and doing things, and thinking about all the places you have to go and things you have to do. You're also reminded about all the small developmental milestones necessary for an infant to mature into a child.

Every week with Ava is something new, with one exception. She's still not saying a whole lot of new words, although she clearly understands a lot. A month and a half ago as she started to pull a baby wipe out of a package, I said, "Uh-uh. Can you close that?" She pushed the wipes back in and firmly closed the lid! I was shocked! I didn't really expect her to understand, but she obviously does.

After months of naming her various limbs and facial features and mine as we play and get dressed, she started pointing to the middle of my face saying, "Doze?" Yep, that's my nose. Ask
 where your ear or eye is and she'll put a tiny finger on it or in it. When asked, she points to all the correct arm, toe and leg locations and even added this doozy last week: "Eye-did?" Uh, yes, that is my eyelid. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but isn't that kind of specific for a 15 month old? I mean, what's next? "Clavicle?"

If you say "Want to brush your teeth?" She makes a rubbing motion with her finger back and forth on her teeth. She even threw me for a loop once when she responded with the back and
 forth motion, accompanied by a weird growling sound. Huh? Oh. Right. Daddy has an electrictoothbrush. "Try to keep up, Mama," her expression seemed to say.

Read the line in her favorite book "I Love You Because You're You" about "hiding behind my knee" or "cross your arms and pout" and she points to her knee and makes the corresponding arm motion. Need a light switch turned on or off? Hoist her up and she's handles it. Need a
 remote retrieved from a distant coffee table? She's all over it. J. recently remarked, "If we'd known kids were so handy, we might have gotten started sooner."

15 month old Ava with her Nana (my mom) who, along with her Grandpa, 
thinks the sun rises and falls with this little girl

She is becoming more and more physically coordinated and wants to do some things on her own, as her mental and physical development increase. I realized this on a whim after months of her protests whenever it was time to get into her car seat. Having exhausted my other options (forcing her, pleading, waiting her out), I finally asked, "Do you want to get into your buckle? I'll help you. You do that side and I'll do this one." Amazingly, she eagerly leaned into the car to strap in, fumbling with the plastic buckle as I "helped" her latch it closed. "All done!" I proclaimed as she smiled up at me proudly, patting the buckle. "Ah daah," she repeated. Apparently, she just wanted to complete the task (sort of) on her own. It's worked every time since. So I'm learning this whole "mom" thing right alongside her, as described in this quote:
"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~Rajneesh
So far, I'm much more relaxed than J. about letting her explore and try new things when we're in child proof spaces and we're around to keep her safe, even if it means she faceplants or gets an unpleasant but not too harmful surprise, like the pinch to her finger when she first closed an eyeglass case on it. As she whimpered while I helped her free her trapped digit, I said, "You have to be careful, right? It can close on you and give an owie, see?" I pointed to the small dent still visible on her finger. Ever since, she's very careful with anything that opens and closes (drawers,
 cabinets, doors), watching intently to make sure her fingers are clear as she moves it. My mom taught her "hot" by letting her feel the bowl with the ramen soup she loves. Now she says "Hoth! Hoth!" whenever we're near the stove or the water temperature warms up as we wash our hands. Learning from small mistakes before they become big ones: that's what we're here to help them with, right?

This face is a cue that A) she's tired and cranky and 
B) she not happy because we've taken something from her that we don't want her playing with. Like knives. Or C-4 plastic explosive. Or Disney characters.

But it's quickly replaced with this face, which we see A LOT thankfully

Ava clearly relishes "helping" and I can see lots of "mommy and daddy's helper" tasks on the horizon to start preparing her for household chores. I now ask her to "help empty the basket" while I fold clothes, which keeps her busy and away from the finished stacks. We've already started showing her how to pick up her toys and put them away when she's done. It's a process, but sure to be easier now than later.

Man, there's too much new stuff! She loves dancing, climbing stairs and running laps around the house. J.'s betting on basketball but she may be headed for a track career at some point. She's got hilarious facial expressions and definitely knows and conveys what she wants. We rarely have to guess whether she likes something or not, which is hugely helpful to us. The only real downside is that, regardless of how inconvenient it might be, what she usually wants is to be right at my side (or closer) while I do whatever I'm doing, whether it's cooking, feeding the dog, or telecommuting during a snowstorm.
Despite my work schedule, we still manage to reconnect each evening and weekends, and she'd still rather spend time with me playing and "helping" with whatever task is at hand, than do most anything else with anyone else, J. included, which he's accepted. I know eventually I'll fall out of vogue and J. will become the go-to guy, and we'll both be shunted aside for friends, texting, books, video games, and whatever passions she develops in the coming years, so I'm savoring this time in the top spot while it lasts. Meantime, the fun and wardrobe variety continues!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Crazy Seattle snowstorm nearly wrecks Christmas

After seven full days of being housebound by the never-before-seen amounts of snow that hit Seattle over the past week, we made it out of the house on Christmas Day. 

Fortunately, I've been able to telecommute. And while it might seem romantic or cozy to be inside, it's actually been incredibly tiring and very non-festive. I've been up with co-workers at 4am to coordinate messaging for our fellow employees trying to find out whether to report to work or not and at what time, and getting updated information to the media about services for the public in the treacherous conditions.

On Christmas day, after one week and two slippery trips to the grocery store on foot pushing a jog stroller laden with groceries, we finally drove away from our house. 
We slowly mae it down the still-treacherous side streets around our house, nearly sliding into parked cars several times as the car lurched to one side or other, seemingly with a mind of its own. White knuckle doesn't begin to cover the strength of my grip on the door handle and arm rest as J. gingerly maneuvered us forward.
The main arterials were better but still dicey in patches as we made our way to Ava's Granma and Papa's house for Christmas breakfast-turned-brunch due to everyone's difficulty in making the trip.

The noshing and abbreviated gift openings could be summed up like this: 

"Hey, you made it!"
"Have some food."
"Here Ava, open this."
"Uh, it's snowing harder. We have to go. Nice seeing everyone!" 

In fact, within an hour of arriving, several of us turned right around to head back home because it started snowing again! It was the shortest, least festive Christmas of my life. It was just hard to get into the Christmas mood when everyone had one eye on the windows watching the weather conditions. Thankfully, warmer days and melting rain ahead mean things should get back to normal soon.

In a bit of revisionist history though, when my daughter grows up, she will remember Christmas '08 not as a sleep-deprived, runny nose-laden, frozen wasteland, but as the color-coordinated, Christmas card-worthy depiction shown below, taken a week before the snow came.
If nothing else, the snowstorm has accomplished something more than 30 years of Seattle winters had not: cured me of my inclination to complain about the rain. Compared to being trapped by snow, rain's not so bad at all anymore. See? This is the season of miracles.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday dada

gLovies - for the germaphobe on your holiday list

According to the website, "gLovies are disposable sanitary hand covers that are used to protect children in a variety of places and circumstances, including public restrooms, malls and supermarkets, zoos and amusement parks, medical facilities, public transportation, or wherever children may come into contact with germs." 

Frankly, they had me at "disposable hand covers."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let's bring smart back

Think it's no big deal that nymphettes rule the airwaves and that media images of women as little more than sex objects are ubiquitous?

A couple weeks ago, NPR ran a story out of Italy that perfectly captures the dangers we face as a
 society for turning a blind eye to the negative portrayals of women and young girls in the media: "In Italy, Feminism Out, Women As Sex Symbols In."

This bothered me as a woman before. Now it also bothers me as the mom of an impressionable girl.  According to the article:
Both on public television and on networks owned by Berlusconi, who also is a media tycoon, scantily dressed women can been seen — but rarely heard — on all types of programs, from quizzes to political talk shows. Opinion polls indicate that the showgirl is the No. 1 role model for young Italian women...
Yuck. Amazing that in the same year we saw a woman vying for President of the United States, an outgoing  female Secretary of State (our second) and smart, accomplished women all over the business, government and non-profit worlds, the women getting  ink and exposure are the ones who are most over exposed (hi Paris and Brit!).

I can only worry about the things I have control over. So Ava's not watching any videos featuring scantily-clad rump shakers (sorry Beyonce, even you) and the media images we have lying around the house include the latest issues of Oprah's magazine, Newsweek and these magazines:
J. says that all my back issues of magazines in various stages of being read make our house a fire trap. I say they're helping to broaden our daughter's mind and make sure she's accustomed to seeing a variety of positive images of both men and women who aren't half naked and from whom people are actually interested in hearing substantive conversation. 

Ava and her buddy R. have a playdate/book club 
and start consuming the first few media images in their lifetimes

When she's ready for near-frontal nudity, I'll take her to an Abercrombie and Fitch store to look at window displays. Until then, I'll make sure she understands that she's got more to offer the world than her admittedly cute countenance. As I read somewhere: you can get by on cute for about 15 minutes. After that, you'd better know something.

Hot, bubbly lasagna

45 minutes ago, I put a ground turkey, italian sausage, onion, mushroom, spinach, ricotta & 4 cheese lasagna in the oven. We're five minutes and several slices of hot, buttered french bread away from deliciousness overload. Nice way to end a snow-dusted weekend and kick off what's sure to be an icy week.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Generation C or Text/Facebook/blog/retinal scan me later

What will the future look like for kids Ava's age? They don't officially have a name like Gen X (born between 1965 and 1976), Gen Y (born between about 1977 and 2000) or Gen Z (2001 and later), but some are calling kids born after 2000 Generation C for:

"click", "content", "connected", "computer"[16] "community",[17] "crappy",[18] and "celebrity"[19] ... The American Press Association's Media Center describes Gen C as "creating, producing and participating in news in a connected informed society."[20] Like the "Internet Generation", this term has been used in reference to both Generation Y and Generation Z. (entire article from the Media Center.) 

Whatever their designation, these kids are growing up in one of the most information- and technology-rich eras in history. That goes for kids in both the First World and the Developing

 World, as evidenced by the kids I met in Portugal living hard-scrabble lives but completely adept at using computers and various software programs.

At 14 months old, Ava already is very comfortable with technology. A couple months ago I noticed she would hold her hand up to her ear periodically and I worried she might be getting an ear infection. But she clearly wasn't in pain. Suddenly it dawned on me: she was "on the phone" mimicking me and J. on our cells or earpieces!  When I ask her if she wants to go see my mom and dad, who I talk to several times a week by phone, she holds up any small electronic device (remotes, calculators) to her ear to "call" them. 

It's going to be hilarious watching her reaction someday when I explain how we used to have to stay in one spot to call someone because the phone was attached to the wall and how there were phones outside that you could pay to use if you were away from home. 

She'll be all: "Mama, that's crazy talk. I'm going to my playdate. I'll mind-text you from my earring when I'm done and you can come get me. Can you drive the electric car? That old timey gas one is noisy and kills the planet. It's SO 2003 and totally embarrassing."